In Zimbabwe, Vaya Africa has launched a network of electric taxis and charging facilities to extend into the entire continent, created by the Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa. A stream of Nissan Leaf EVs has been acquired by the South African headquarters and its own solar charging stations have been developing it.
This week, the system goes live in Zimbabwe with a collaboration between Vaya and Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia to introduce electric taxi services on demand and offer services on their markets. “Zimbabwe’s just a sandbox. Vaya Mobility CEO Dorothy Zimuto told TechCrunch during a call from Harare that we’ve mobilized other countries across Africa. Vaya, a subsidiary of The Econet Group of Strive Masiyiwa, comprises one of the largest mobile operators in South Africa, and the company for Internet service, Liquid Telecom.
Masiyiwa has become the chief and philanthropist of President Obama ‘s ties to the Rockefeller Foundation worldwide and has become one of Africa’s Gates, a Branson kind. Oswald Jumira, leading innovation partnership of Liquid Telecom, works with Zimuto on the Vaya EV app. The project has been ongoing for a number of years since Africa’s on-demand mobility market, with entrepreneurs, investors and bigger driver players aiming at getting people movement and goods into the digital models of products.
Ethiopia has Ride and Zayride local ride-hail companies. Since 2015, Uber has been involved in many markets on the continent and like competitor Bolt, in 2018 he entered the African motorcycle taxi industry. There has been some movement on the continent over the past year to develop EVs for hail and transport, especially on a two-wheel drive.
A $7 million Series A bike sponsored by Yamaha, part of which was devoted to pilot energy-driven e motorcycles, was raised by Nigerian mobility company MAX.ng in 2019. In partnership with the EV startup Ampersand, the Government of Rwanda established in last year a national plan for the phasing out of e-bike gas taxis.
In addition to environmental benefits, the attraction of moving to electricity at Africa’s taxi markets is the economic unit since the cost of fuel in comparison with individual income is always high for most drivers on the continent. “Africa is enthusiastic about the green revolution: no pollution, no noise and a massive saving… for their vehicles’ operating costs,” he said. It estimates that drivers on the ride-hail platform will save 40% on fuel and maintenance costs.
The fuel prices at the first Zimbabwean market in Vaya are currently approximately 1,20 USD per litre, so Econet Group’s Oswald Jumira estimates that the average travel distance is 22 kilometres for $19. Nissan Leaf vehicles will cost around $5 for an area of 150 to 200 km on Vaya’s charging network. “This is the driver who is fine. At home, you’re making more money. And that means that we can also slash the tariff for hairdressers to make it affordable for customers, “said Jumira to TechCrunch.
The firm has adapted its operations to COVID-19 spread throughout Africa. According to Zimuto, Vaya supplies PPE to its drivers and hygiene his cars 4 to 5 times a day. For other transportation on-demand applications, Vaya is investigating EV options from motorcycle shipments to Tuk Tuk taxis. On the matter, Vaya points out that its EV program offers reduced rates as an advantage in terms of competition to Uber in Africa. Dorothy Zimuto, CEO of Vaya Mobility, also highlights some advantages to know the local culture and preferences.
“We speak African. That’s the language we understand. We understand the people and what they want across our markets. That’s what makes the difference.” she said. It will be somewhat to look at whether Vaya’s EV bet and awareness of the local market converts into more people flow, as it goes from head to toe with other hail firms, such as Uber, across Africa.